The announcement by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, led by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, that it will contest the Bihar Assembly elections has put the spotlight on other smaller political forces in the fray hoping to play the spoiler for one or the other big alliance at play.
The Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party were both part of the Nitish Kumar-led mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) along with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress. After not getting a good settlement in the seat sharing, the SP and the NCP walked out and hope to form an alliance that will eat into the mahagathbandhan votes.
The Bahujan Samaj Party and a Left Front comprising the CPI, and the CPI(M) are also in the fray. The BSP hopes to cut into the Mahadalit vote bank vied for by NDA allies Ram Vilas Paswan and Jiten Ram Manjhi as also Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (U). The Left has had a traditional base in Bihar but it has been very marginal electorally.
According to psephologist Abhay Kumar, formerly with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and now closely observing the Bihar polls, none of these formations has much of a chance in such a polarised election.
“There are takers for every kind of vote in the two big alliances. Muslim votes normally go to the strongest anti-BJP formation, that is the mahagathbandhan this time. There is already a counter polarisation and it doesn’t seem likely that either the SP-NCP combine or Mr. Owaisi can make much of a difference,” he said.
On the question of the Mahadalit vote too, his opinion is similar. “The BSP in the Assembly polls of 2010 got no seats and got 3.21 per cent of the vote, when only the JD(U) was in the fray for the Mahadalit vote, along with Mr. Paswan. This time there is the Manjhi factor too, therefore it doesn’t look good for the party,” he said.
Sources in the SP, however, say that the party will show its cards after candidates have been declared and encourage rebels to fight on its party ticket. Mr. Owaisi and Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, who left Mr. Lalu Prasad’s RJD to form his own party, the Jan Adhikar Manch , both have influence over some seats in Seemanchal and Mr. Yadav can influence voters in Bhagalpur as well. They are hoping to capture the mahagathbandhanvotes.
Courtesy: The Hindu